COLLEGE FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK: Georgia has busy day in Athens; FSU's new defense turning heads

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

ATHENS --- The Georgia football team kicked off a busy day on Saturday with a 90-minute morning practice.

The session started with intermittent rain during stretching and ended with rain as the Bulldogs went through their final snaps, but Georgia coach Mark Richt was happy with the progress in between.

"We got everything done that we wanted to," Richt said. "I'm thankful we got practice in."

Following practice, the Bulldogs went into Picture Day mode. The players and coaches posed for individual, segment and team photos in the Coliseum due to the rain, then held a private session with family members. From 3-5 p.m., the Bulldogs signed autographs and posed for photos at Sanford Stadium.

"It's a busy day," Richt said. "It's great that the guys get to see moms and dads, aunts and uncles, and friends and then spend some time with our fans. It's a good day and we have a good time."

After practice, Richt got word that the Bulldogs were ranked No. 23 in the first Associated Press poll of the season.

"I am thankful that we are ranked," Richt said. "I think it's important to be ranked. I hope we play well enough to move up. That's the plan."

"The way I feel about our preseason ranking is it's motivation for us," defensive back Brandon Boykin said. "Our goal is to be No. 1 at the end of the season. You can't put a lot into a preseason ranking because you still have to go out on the field and perform and prove yourself."

Others agreed.

"It's not where we'd like to be," fullback Shaun Chapas said, "but what matters is where you finish and not necessarily where you start."

Georgia, which was ranked No. 21 in the preseason edition of the USA Today coaches poll, will begin the 2010 campaign on Saturday, Sept. 4 against Louisiana-Lafayette at Sanford Stadium. Kickoff for the opener against the Ragin' Cajuns is set for 12:21 p.m., and the contest will be televised on the SEC Network nationwide.



Sophomore cornerback Greg Reid enjoyed another outstanding afternoon, but was most impressed by the continued development of the completely re-tooled defensive unit.

"There's a lot of focus on bringing the defense together," Reid said. "We came together as a unit and we're fighting for each other and being aggressive. We're a lot more aggressive now. We were kind of shook last year about getting beat. ... We're having fun (now) making plays."

Fisher did praise junior college transfer cornerback Mike Harris, who was in on a handful of plays Saturday and appears to have made a significant jump since the opening scrimmage.

"Mike's a good player; he's a real good player," said Fisher. "He breaks on the ball. He's almost like a quiet assassin. You never hear him out there but he's always in the right place. Ball makes a lot of sense to him."

Sophomore defensive end Brandon Jenkins and redshirt freshman defensive end Dan Hicks consistently applied pressure on the quarterbacks. The linebackers were active and the secondary provided sticky coverage for the most part.

"There was a lot of three and outs," Jenkins said. "A lot of players made plays and we came together as a defense."

Ponder has certainly noticed a difference in attitude and aptitude on the opposite side of the football.

"They've improved a lot," Ponder said. "Ever since spring ball the guys have really done a good job of picking up the defense and understanding what they are doing. A lot of guys made plays. (There were) a lot of pass break-ups; a lot of pressure in my face, which was good to see."